Permission

Have you ever been caught jumping in before you had permission to do something? Like that time you assumed the baking was for the family and cut a slice of too-good-to-be-true cake and then found out it was for someone else?

Like the 2-year-old boy who discovered all the wrapped Christmas presents hiding in bags ready for unwrapping – every single one?

We get taught it early to wait for permission. Ask before we take, to make sure it’s our turn before we get on the trampoline, to wait for the all-clear.

I feel like this is a thing I’ve taken and made my own as an adult. Like it’s not okay to launch into the great adventure before being told I’m allowed to.

rose stained glass

I’ve waited and waited for someone else to believe in my competence.

I’ve hoped to hear someone say – we’ve made a space for you, we’ve created a platform, we want you, we need you, it’s your turn. I’ve watched people get promoted, I’ve watched people be ‘discovered’, I’ve wondered and wondered when it will be my turn.

I’ve realised I’m living loud and bold in some things but in others I’m fluttering, unsure on the periphery waiting for permission I don’t actually need.

When I think about Jesus and his dealings with people they seem to be initiated with a ‘come’ or a ‘go’.

come to me you who are burdened and I will give you rest,

let the little children come to me

come and follow me

then there are the go’s

go and tell the world

go back to your servant and it will be as you have asked

go and live free from sin

Jesus didn’t say

wait until you have completed my special checklist

wait until you have a following

wait until someone else decides you are ready, competent, qualified.

The only wait the disciples were given was to wait for the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit who is all the power, peace, grace, strength and permission we need. This week I’m challenged to stop wasting time looking for permission to do something and start investing my effort and thought  and prayers into how I can get on with doing the things that make my heart beat fast.

As I go towards these things I remind myself that the One is with me and that His permission, approval are all I need and that He is more than capable of making a way for each of us.

Be brave today dear heart and live free to be all you have been called to be.

xxx

Peace

I think perhaps Peace is the hardest of the all the Christmas promises to experience. Maybe it’s cultural…perhaps we have bought into a Christmas season that is all about doing everything, being everywhere and meeting demands for everything and everyone.

 

I’ve been thinking about hurricanes and storms lately. It doesn’t take much looking around the world, our community or even our lives to be confronted with the noise, fear and carnage of storms.

How’s a person to have peace in such a beat up, stressed out, broken down place?

Peace I give you; peace I leave with you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Today as I’ve sat to write the words whispering in my heart are the eye of the hurricane.

In a terrible storm, in the centre closest to the worst of winds and damage there is an eye – an eye that opens all the way to the top and beyond. While the storm can be so all-encompassing there is no way to view through it, there is an opening that widens as it ascends.

In that eye there are blue skies, low wind, peaceful conditions.

It’s danced like a song in my heart today – a promise of peace in the midst of the storm.

A place of safety where the blue of heaven touches the dust of earth.

A place that widens and opens out as it ascends.

And in the song are the words that sustain and give life to peace.

This is no fleeting peace – it is a life-giving, anchoring peace, peace that quiets my heart and settles around my shoulders like a korowai (cloak), a mantle of peace that I can shelter inside when the storms rage.

I am sitting with these words – like the heavens entered earth via the eye of the storm. Because the world has never been free from storms, from noise, from violence.

But….into the storm came the Prince of Peace. 

He dwelt with us in the storm. He remains with us in the storm and he will be our Peace.

Today my Advent word for myself is PEACE.

Peace that cannot be measured,

peace that passes human understanding,

peace that abides,

peace that will come again,

peace that will reign.

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Today, as you anticipate Advent may you have Peace.

Peace that dwells in your heart.

Peace that surrounds like a cloak.

Peace that sustains.

Peace to you today, dear beloved one.

The shock of the Cross

I’ve been failing at Lenting…. it’s like it has slipped past me as I have rushed the other way.

I have felt it, the lack of lent, hovering like some kind of hologram completely unrelated to my here and now.

I have this dream of journeying well and being in every moment face up to behold the son. Instead, I am distracted and distractible, disagreeable and doubting, busy and all business….. and I miss the moment. My eyes flit from one demand to another and my ears tune out the wordless whisper of invitation and hear only the clamour of a million insignificant noises.

I have missed the journey to the cross and so I find myself unprepared for its confrontation.

Instead of holding the grief well and partaking in passover with love and understanding I find myself suddenly caught sleeping in the garden, I am overtaken by an angry mob who’ve come on the attack and I am blindsided.

Jesus was ready for the cross – he set his face to the journey, he gathered in and encouraged his loved ones, he agonised in the garden.

The disciples were ambushed by the whole thing… in a way, they had been invited to a lenten journey – Jesus had hinted and talked and they had missed the boat. When they finally realised they were in the midst and it was too late for finding inner stillness and trust, they were rudderless.

Perhaps that’s why I need the journey of Lent – because the cross is carried in a million ways, everyday.

The cross is carried in quiet discipline that no-one sees.
The cross is carried in the tongue kept still when it wants to lash out.
The cross is carried in the extra un-noticed mile in the workplace.
The cross is carried in the daily surrender of my right to rule.

When I forget to take these million small ‘cross journeys’ then I suddenly find I am crushed and overwhelmed. I found myself undisciplined, answering back, doing only my dues, demanding my rights…. I find I am in fact  sprinting away from the cross not journeying towards it.

Lent is disappearing and the cross looms large on the horizon…. may I find the courage to lay down the demands before me and take up the yoke I am invited to. Friday is coming but there is time to prepare my heart, to fall in step with Jesus once again as he walks determinedly up that hill.

Because I know Easter will come, there will be chocolate and buns, there will be celebration and family but I will have missed so much if I just tune in on Friday and Sunday.

Lent is an opportunity to drink in the fullness of what was achieved for me at Easter and it’s so big, and wonderful, and life giving that 40 days of giving myself over to it is hardly even enough to prepare myself to stand again and marvel at the love that poured out.

If I don’t tune in until Friday I have missed out and I don’t want to miss out on the depths of love and grace and freedom because I only gave it a couple of days across one weekend on my calendar….

how is your Lent?
If you are missing it then perhaps we could pick it up a little late and walk it slowly together?

Miriam xx

When the Packaging Loses It’s Shine

I saw this video some time ago and I loved it. It’s about children who live on a slum on top of a landfill making musical instruments from rubbish. It popped into my mind the other day and I loved the parallels it has with our lives.


I am so often like that all that junk and left-over packaging – at some time the shiny wears off, and I feel that really what I have to offer is likely to be, without wanting to be harsh, landfill.

My best efforts end in resentful sighs, wondering why I haven’t been noticed.

My good intentions whipped away like some discarded packaging on the side of the road.

My promises of good choices, right words, a life above reproach crumble, bend, rust.

and I realise on my own it’s all rubbish

then, I remember a One who walked on this very soil. The One who knows the dust of earth, the smell of rubbish piles.

He reaches down from heaven and he takes my rubbish and he takes time to re-shape it. He tunes me in, he allows me to hear his rhythms of Love, His song of Grace, his beat of Hope.

Maybe when you look from the outside it still looks like a collection of rubbish but when He starts to play the music is beautiful. Because that’s the beauty of it – not that he tells me to come back when I’m perfect – that he chooses to turn my rubbish into music.

He is writing a beautiful song with my life everyday. Because the song he sings over us is accompanied by the music He is writing with our lives.

Don’t be discouraged about the junk in your life – lean into the One who knows how to make beautiful instruments from what the world discards.

The Lord your God is with you.

    He is mighty enough to save you.

He will take great delight in you.

    The quietness of his love will calm you down.

    He will sing with joy because of you.
Zephaniah 3v17

Why We Ache for Spring

Before Winter starts I imagine the snuggling under blankets, the gathering in near the fire, the slow and homely pace.

and then Winter sets in

and there are still school runs to do, and kindy runs, and waiting in the bone chilling wind…. and it goes on and on and all of me starts to fantasise about Spring.

We ache (sometimes literally to the bone) for the Spring to come, for lightness in the skies, for the heads of daffodils to herald the way.

We long to be rid of the Winter. To throw it off and shake our fist at it – you tried to break my will but you didn’t succeed.

…. and I think this is how we feel about life seasons of Winter too….

when the leaves drop and we are defenceless and vulnerable,

exposed and found lacking,

the shallowness of our roots becomes obvious as the surface of the ground ices up and begins to crack,

and we long for the easiness of Spring, how impressive our blossom, how hopeful and filled with potential and promise we look.

Currently I feel challenged not to try and race so quickly through the winter – there are good things to be learnt in the winter season.

humility – when you are full of bloom and potential humbleness is harder to learn. When you have nothing to cover your inadequacies, when you feel out of your depth, when you feel alone, this is when humility comes more easily. And I know humility will serve me well in the Spring and Summer and especially in the losses of Autumn.

interdependency – when the winter wind howls and lashes I learn the importance of having other trees close by, of having my roots tangled in the roots of others so we lean into each others strengths. I learn the value of the strong, compassionate, clever, thoughtful people around me in a way I forget to acknowledge in easy seasons.

faith – when all around is storm and there is no one to hang on to, the roots snap off or they go deep. In the calm of Spring and the gentle rain who’s to know if there are deep roots that cling to the side of a slippery cliff, in winter faith is what holds me there.

hope – when all is easy what need for Hope? In winter I throw myself into the arms of Hope because Hope will sustain when there is nothing but empty, nothing but cold and the sound of questions being whipped into the wind.

Hope will sustain. He will sustain.

and when you find yourself in Winter may you come out the other side deeper, stronger, humbler, more connected, with Faith and Hope that are based on knowing He is there xxx

when the order is wrong

I pile sheets and towels into the washing machine. Winding them around in a circle so as not to over balance them. I throw in some extras to fill the tub and then, at the bottom of the basket I see another sheet.

So, I take out the extras so make space for the important last sheet.

Isn’t that just like life? I’m juggling a thousand bits of everything and they so easily get tangled and over-balanced and I keep throwing in the extras to make it FULL.

Sometimes He calls me to take some things out. Sometimes when there’s less of everything there’s a chance to see something forgotten at the bottom of the stack, someone, some encouragement needed, some Peace, some rest I’m invited into. But if I want see it, if I want to accept that big invitation I need to take out some of the extras so I can have room.

I think it’s a question to ask – is there room for the forgotten one, the overlooked, the passed over – or is there just.too.much to have room?

Sometimes the fullest life has empty space, breathing space, resting space. Sometimes the FULL life is the life that has room to hear the invitation and respond.

In The Everyday

There is One who speaks 
not just to the qualified
who speaks a midst the clanging of pans 
who speaks above the sound of the extractor fan
who speaks in dirty dishes
this is the One I seek
the one who visits me in the life of everyday
who walked with dusty feet
and shared meals
and dunked bread
these are the lessons
the prayers
the searching and the listening
this is my kitchen faith